1. No dog is happier to be rescued.
I remember the first night after I left the streets. My human kept me in an enclosed porch because, let’s face it, I was crawling with fleas and pretty filthy. She put a dog bed outside with some food and water, and I’d see her checking on me about every five minutes. That night, I slept well for the first time in my short life. I didn’t move; I didn’t wake up until the sun rose. I was safe.
We dogs are wired by nature to be humans’ companions. It’s the result of thousands of years of breeding. After all, dogs have the longest history of co-habitation with humans of any animal. But there’s a special bond between a dog and its human rescuer. You want a loving, loyal, and flat-out grateful pup? Get a street dog.
2. You can help us prove people wrong.
Except for the poor pit bulls, street dogs are about the most vilified canines on the planet. Too many humans believe we’re untamable and vicious. Let me tell you – I’ve met some street dogs who curl up with cats and babies, and I’ve met some pet dogs (like my human’s grandmother’s Chihuahua!) who would rather bite you than look at you. Do you really think one generation on the street is going to turn us back into wolves?
Perception is a tough nut to crack, but in adopting a street dog, you automatically create an ambassador. One pet street dog can change the hearts and minds of dozens or hundreds of other potential adopters by showing who street dogs really are.
3. We have the best life stories to tell.
People are always asking my human what kind of dog I am and where I came from. They seem to be fascinated by my story. They want to know about my scars and whether it was hard to train me (whatever that means). Look, I’m a pet now. I sleep on the couch, I know my dinner should be ready at exactly 5pm, and I walk on a leash like I was born to this life. But I have a dark, tragic past, and I think that makes me a little more interesting than most dogs, don’t you?
4. Street dogs aren’t someone else’s problem.
Yup, I was rescued in Africa. Poor countries with lots of trash on the streets and no spay/neuter clinics definitely have more street dogs. But that doesn’t mean the United States doesn’t have any. Millions of American street dogs (and cats!) scavenge in empty city buildings and on the edges of rural towns. While we call them “strays,” implying they just absent-mindedly wandered away from home, most of them are what the rest of the world calls “street” dogs (and cats). They’re born, live, and die on the streets. A street dog by any other name is still a street dog. You don’t have to go all the way to the other side of the world to make a difference.
5. You can save a life.
Without being rescued, how long do dogs survive on the streets? Not nearly as long as you’d think. The truth is disease, malnutrition, injury, hard city living, or depraved humans, routinely cut short their lives. Ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of old street dogs wandering around? Obviously everyone can’t devote their time and energy to a street dog rescue organization, but they can get pups like me off the street one dog at a time.
6. And probably the lives of generations of street dogs.
I’m sure you’ve seen the charts where one pair of dogs can produce 67,000 future dogs in just five years. When you rescue a street dog, you stop that cycle. You prevent that dog from producing puppies, and those puppies from producing puppies, and on and on for centuries maybe. You’ve rescued not only that dog, but all of its offspring to come. That’s some serious rescuing!
7. All the cool kids are doing it.
Forget Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears! Some of the biggest names in Hollywood rescued street dogs. Here’s a partial list: Scarlett Johannson, Ryan Gosling, Kei$ha, Jake Gyllenhaal, Charlize Theron, and Matthew McConaughey. In fact, Kei$sha is the official Street Dog Ambassador for Humane Society International. If street dogs like me are good enough for multimillionaire movie stars, we’re probably good enough for regular folks.
8. We’re cheap dates.
My humans tell me there’s a global financial crisis going on. As long as the dog food keeps coming, it doesn’t affect me that much. However, I do wonder about people that spend hundreds of dollars to buy dogs when we’re pretty much everywhere and begging for homes. Be frugal – you can rescue a dog from the street for FREE.
9. Talk about resilient…
I can’t say for sure where street dogs fall in terms of smarts, but I can tell you we’re at the top of the charts for toughness. Weather, illnesses, other street dogs (and humans), and whatever garbage we can scavenge – by the time my human got me, I’d survived it all. I’m not easily thrown by new situations, and I don’t have a delicate stomach. That doesn’t make me perfect, but it sure does make me a dog you want in your corner when the chips are down.
10. Honestly, we’re just dogs.
Some other day, when I don’t have a busy cat-chasing schedule to keep, I’ll make a list of all the myths there are about street dogs. For now, let me tell you that we’re just dogs. We aren’t scary creatures or even particularly wise ones. We love the things all dogs love – having our bellies scratched and the sound of a can opener on metal. We want to be near you and learn to sit. It doesn’t matter if we were born in an Indian slum or to an American purebred.
The only thing different about us is we’ve had a rough go of it over the past few generations. How different is that from lots of humans out there? You wouldn’t think a human who was down on his luck, whether financially, relationship-wise, or career-wise, was somehow less good, would you? I didn’t think so.
If it’s a dog you want, try one of us.
Eric and Tracy Whittington are the proud owners of Labi, a rescued African street dog. You can read more about street dogs and how to help them at streetdogstory.com. And check out A Street Dog’s Story: The Almost 100% True Adventures of Labi, available on Amazon Kindle in English and Spanish.